Six dates scheduled, for five days, and a total of almost 400 children and youth hosted at the summer camps organized in the villages of: Oltenești, Berezeni, Șoarș, Laza, Rebricea, Lepșa. This is what Denis Zlatan told us in his long report, full of details that we will try to summarize briefly here. We are truly grateful to the Lord because Bethesda, thanks to the generous contribution of many donors, was able to cover the expenses for 170 children. Truly we owe a big thank you to all of you who contributed. The rest of the camps were supported by several Romanian evangelical churches. This teaches us a lot about the importance of putting our energy together to achieve, as one body, the objectives that God has for taking care of these little ones physically and spiritually.
“The Kingdom of Trials by Fire” and “Master Chef” Denis and his staff, made up of young leaders, cooks and other volunteers, worked hard during the summer on various fronts: transporting the children (with their own cars), assistance and supervision, distribution of meals and above all talking about the love of Jesus and the importance of believing in Him in order to receive a completely new life and with the promise of an eternal destiny, as the Bible teaches. The camps had two main themes: The “Kingdom of Trials by Fire”, inspired by the biblical story of the life of Daniel and his friends during their captivity in Babylon, and then “Master Chef” was proposed again (like last year) in villages where there had never been summer camps.
Lots of difficulties but just as many miracles There were so many difficulties. By now we know that every year we have to fight against various “opponents”. This year again, the drought made the organization complicated. Public water was rationed to a few hours a day, wells and reserves were dried up. Especially in the area of our farm, in Rebricea, were the greatest difficulties. The landscape that in the past saw abundant green grass became arid and dusty during the summer, due to the drought that has persisted for months. Thank God the mayor of Rebricea provided us, twice, with the water we needed for showers and cooking through the fire department. Glory to God for this and a heartfelt thanks also to the Stroi’s for using all their contacts to get this help. But the other big problem was drinking water: in the heat the children drank a lot of it and the water purchased in jugs ran out in two days. Then God raised up a man “out of nothing”, who allowed us to use drinking water from his well. Once again we are amazed at how God takes care of everything. Beyond the problems mentioned, we once again experienced resistance on the part of the authorities, including religious ones, who instead of encouraging this type of program, in a land where the suffering, especially of little ones, is truly great, hindered it in different ways. Sometimes by not giving us adequate space to carry out the camps, other times by intimidating children and families not to attend our camps and many other truly disheartening strategies. It’s not our way to be so direct in denouncing these attitudes, but we are truly shocked every time. Considering how this is in total contradiction with any principle of freedom of expression and belief, especially considering we find ourselves in a European nation (Romania) which defines itself as democratic and above all “Christian”.
The Message of the Gospel: the greatest hope But the Lord was truly greater and more powerful than everyone and everything, and allowed, despite the obstacles, all the camps to see so many children arrive. The families themselves, invited on the closing evenings, noted the joy in their children’s eyes after participating in a truly blessed week. These little ones were able to sing, play, have a guaranteed meal, listen to biblical stories and receive nourishment which, if it grows in their hearts, will give them a future of eternal certainties. Denis told us that some children and youth were touched by the Gospel’s message of hope and made a decision for Jesus and committed to following him. We believe this is the best news we could ever receive. If even one child out of 400 believed in the Gospel, this abundantly rewards all our efforts.
Broken lives and so much need for love Holding summer camps also helps us bring the families in which these poor children and young people live closer. One of the camps (Lepsa) hosted 35 children entrusted to Child Protection, which we know well. In Denis’ story, this sentence struck me: “During this camp the children showed so much affection towards the leaders that they didn’t let us go until they had hugged them, almost as if they didn’t want to let them leave.” Behind the lives of these children there are real dramas, but perhaps it is more appropriate to call them “horrors” which, for confidentiality, we cannot talk about, but often involve the exposure of these children to terrible traumas caused by adults themselves.
Often it is their parents, who during their lives have not been able to demonstrate anything other than physical and verbal violence, hatred, even committing disgraceful acts that truly no child or young person should ever experience in their life. Many of these children have suffered physical and psychological trauma and, as a result, their hearts are broken and their minds are now filled with hatred, and they often seek “evil” (of all kinds) in revenge or as a consequence for what they have suffered. All this is truly terrifying and many experts think that there really is no hope for them. But we know well, from experience that where man’s hope ends, God’s does not, putting them right in our path, in order to know a love so great and powerful that it can penetrate and heal even the heart pierced by a thousand wounds, giving them the hope of a new life based on love and forgiveness, as taught by Jesus Christ in the Gospel.
Despite our involvement for over ten years in this area of Romania and the continual work with the children, when we read about these stories, we can only pray to increase our efforts and continue to help raise awareness to as many people as possible that the need in this field is truly enormous, where the amount of broken lives is constantly growing and unfortunately the “workers” are always too few.
Dear reader, dear donor, I want to thank you once again because I know that you will spend time praying for these little ones and above all for our work and if God puts it on your heart to donate for His work.
God bless you Orazio Gentile (translated by Tracy Horst)
Bethesda ETS – Ama il tuo prossimo